State v. Barker, 240 N.C. App. 224 (Apr. 7, 2015)

Indictments charging obtaining property by false pretenses were not defective. The charges arose out of the defendant’s acts of approaching two individuals (Ms. Hoenig and Ms. Harward), falsely telling them their roofs needed repair, taking payment for the work and then performing shoddy work or not completing the job. At trial, three other witnesses testified to similar incidents. On appeal, the defendant argued that the indictments failed to “intelligibly articulate” his misrepresentations. The court disagreed:

The indictments clearly state that defendant, on separate occasions, obtained property (money) from Ms. Hoenig and Ms. Harward by convincing each victim to believe that their roofs needed extensive repairs when in fact their roofs were not in need of repair at all. In each indictment, the State gave the name of the victim, the monetary sum defendant took from each victim, and the false representation used by defendant to obtain the money: by defendant “approaching [Ms. Hoenig] and claiming that her roof needed repair, and then overcharging [Ms. Hoenig] for either work that did not need to be done, or damage that was caused by the defendant[.]” As to Ms. Harward, the false representation used by defendant to obtain the money was “by . . . claiming that her shed roof needed repair, [with defendant knowing] at the time [that he] intended to use substandard materials and construction to overcharge [Ms. Harward].” Each indictment charging defendant with obtaining property by false pretenses was facially valid, as each properly gave notice to defendant of all of the elements comprising the charge, including the element defendant primarily challenges: the alleged misrepresentation (i.e., that defendant sought to defraud his victims of money by claiming their roofs needed repair when in fact no repairs were needed, and that defendant initiated these repairs but either failed to complete them or used substandard materials in performing whatever work was done). 

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